JAMES THOMPSON (deceased), as has been stated, was the eldest son of Alexander, and was born in Granger County, Tenn., April 19, 1802. He passed his boyhood days in Tennessee, having limited educational opportunities, and came to Indiana with his parents in 1816; was with them during their stay in Franklin and Fayette counties, and came with them to Johnson County in 1821. In the following year his father died, and, being the oldest son, he was of great assistance to his mother in carrying on the farm. Mr. Thompson was brought up a farmer, but learned the trade of blacksmithing under Isaac Collier, and afterward went into partnership with him in blacksmithing, continuing in it up to the time of his marriage in 1825, when he was united to Susan Collier, daughter of Isaac, by whom he had children as follows: Rebecca Ann, born April 19, 1826; John Alexander, born April 22, 1828; Isaac M. and Alfred C., twins, born August 22, 1831 (A. C. died April 12, 1858); W. H., born December 7, 1833; Redding B., born November 27, 1838, died June 22, 1849; James I., born April 15, 1841, died in September, 1876. Some time previous to his marriage, he had been laying plans preparatory to engaging in the milling business, and soon after his marriage, in 1825, erected a grist and saw mill on the Blue River, near where the mill of John A. Thompson now stands. This was one of the first mills in Johnson County, and James Thompson was one of the pioneer millers. He could hardly have realized then to what perfection the process of milling would be carried in comparatively so short a time, and the primitive mill of that day would be almost as much of a curiosity to the people of today as the present mill, with all its improvements and milling machinery, would have been to the early settlers. He engaged in, and carried on, the milling business so successfully, that about fifteen years later he added a woolen mill and rebuilt the saw and grist mill, making them as perfect as the day and age were capable of. In 1852, Mr. Thompson abandoned the saw and woolen mill, and built a fine six-story stone and brick mill, with all modern improvements, changing the site of the mill a few hundred feet down the Blue River. This mill he carried on until he sold out to his son, John A., in 1859, having accumulated an ample fortune. Mr. Thompson also owned a farm, which he worked with the aid of his sons. Politically, he was a Whig, and after a republican, but never specially sought any office, though he was justice of the peace for many years, holding that office at the time of his death. He relinquished the office for a time prior to the time of his retiring from the milling business, and after he had sold that out, having more leisure, again accepted it. Susan collier, Mr. Thompson's first wife, died in September, 1850, and he was married again December 29, 1850, to Phoebe Hicks, by whom he had several children, three of whom – Mary Emily, Charles Fremont, and Lydia Harriet – are living. Coming to Johnson County at so early a day, and in the heighth of his youth and strength, Mr. Thompson entered into the affairs of life with that earnestness of purpose that insured success. He did much to improve and advance the country and community where his lot was cast, and raised a family who have been and are amply capable to further what he began. In his dealings, he was strictly honorable and possessed of that common sense and good judgment that enabled him to see what was for his own good, and made him a prominent factor in his community. After he sold his mill to his son John he was not as actively engaged in business, but carried on a certain amount up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1872, and was caused indirectly by a kick received from a mule about a year previous to this. This kick caused injuries which, though at one time nearly healed, were further aggravated a short time before his death by his being run over by a wagon drawn by the same team. The combination caused the formation of an abscess which was the immediate cause of his death. He died at the ripe old age of seventy, having accomplished a life-work that was an honor to his name and justly entitled him to the respect of all.
Transcribed by Cheryl Zufall Parker
Banta, D.D. History of Johnson County, Indiana. Chicago, IL: Brant & Fuller, 1888.